Forest Service will raise Anan fees starting next year

The U.S. Forest Service is preparing for another busy season at Anan Wildlife Observatory, one of the biggest visitor attractions around, just 30 miles south of town.

This summer, the daily fee to visit the bear observatory during the permit-only season of prime bear watching July 5 through Aug. 25 will remain at $10.

Starting in 2025, however, the fee will increase $10 per year, raising next summer's fee to $20 per day. The fee will increase every year until it reaches $50 in 2028. The increased fee will go toward maintenance and improvement at the observatory, like the new viewing platform under construction this month.

Throughout the viewing season, the observatory gets more than 3,000 visitors through guided and unguided tours. It is limited to 60 daily visitors on guided tours, with a dozen daily slots set aside for unguided visitors who get there on their own.

This summer, Anan will see six new guide operators including Seawind Aviation and Rytful Adventures out of Ketchikan, Adventure Alaska Southeast of Thorne Bay, Kruger Sea Corp. of Washington state and Alaska Legacy Charters and Chrome Chasers from Wrangell. They will join the longstanding Wrangell operators that provide transportation and tours at the site.

It will be a new learning experience this summer and there might be some growing pains, said Tory Houser, Wrangell district ranger. But new tour operators means diversifying Anan's business, she said.

Houser is looking forward to this summer at Anan, though she added that everything depends on the weather, fish and berries.

The bears may take a little while to get accustomed to their new environment, she said. A new viewing platform is being installed and should be complete by May 30.

Rainforest Contractors is installing the new platform and also the new Anan Bay cabin, which will hopefully be completed by the end of June, Houser said. If it's not complete by the peak bear-viewing season, construction of the new cabin will be finished after the season, so as not to disturb wildlife.

A wind-fallen tree destroyed the old cabin in an early 2023 storm.


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